Florida's specialty tags may face ban

Published: Monday, January 5, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 5, 2004 at 1:21 a.m.


Too many tags?

  • The state has 88 different models of tag - so many that state Sen. Evelyn Lynn wants to put the brakes on new ones.

  • Got a cause? If it doesn't already have a Florida license tag displaying its name, it never will under a proposed legislative bill.
    The state has 88 different models of tags - so many that a state legislator wants to put the brakes on new ones. And she will have the support of at least some area police officials.
    "They create an issue for law enforcement in us doing our job," Gainesville Police Sgt. Keith Kameg said. "When you have so many different tags and the victims are not positive what state the tag is from, it makes the investigation that much longer. If we know from a victim that a tag is 'Florida ABC,' it is easier to look for than an unknown tag."
    Some speciality tags are common enough to be immediately recognized - top sellers such as the manatee and panther tags or those from major universities.
    But can you identify the tag of Lynn University? Or the Florida Hospital College of Health Science? Or the United We Stand tag?
    Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, has filed a bill to ban any new tags after June 30.
    "I think we're at the point where we have our bases covered," she said.
    Law enforcement officials in her district had complained that they had trouble distinguishing between specialty tags from Florida and out-of-state plates, Lynn said.
    Sharon Griffis, director of the Alachua County tag office on Archer Road, said the University of Florida tag is probably the most popular specialty tag here. Florida State University and Florida A&M University are also popular education tags in Alachua County, she said.
    Environmental tags including the sea turtle and manatee licenses are also common sellers, Griffis said.
    Statewide in 2002, the top three tags were the panther, the manatee and UF.
    Specialty tags cost $15 to $25 more than regular Florida plates. The money goes to the group, university or agency that sponsors the tag.
    Not all specialty tags exist forever. The state cancels them if at least 8,000 are not sold or renewed within five years. A Girl Scouts tag, for example, was canceled in 2002.
    Alachua County Sheriff's Sgt. Keith Faulk said the proliferation of Florida tags is a safety issue because of the difficulty in determining if some of the obscure tags are Florida tags.
    "It's hard for us to know these 88 tags that are within just Florida plus the other 50 states," he said. "Obviously, there are ones that you know - UF, FSU, the manatee. But it has become very cumbersome."
    Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com. Information from the St. Petersburg Times was used in this story.

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